President’s Birthday Cherry Pie

The Best President's Birthday Cherry Pie |

If I were a superhero ‘Pie Prowess’ would not be my super power.  I like pie.  To me it has a gentle sensibility to it that is often overlooked for sexier desserts like Chocolate Decadence or Molten Lava Cake.  Pie doesn’t need any of those bells or whistles.  It is simple, straight forward and can hold its own against the most gastronomically fussy confections.

President's Birthday Cherry Pie |

I’ve made pies, not a lot of pies, but I’ve made them.  I am however more of a Tomboy Baker, not bearing the precise execution to produce the gasp-inspiring perfection as one would expect of ‘Martha’.  I have not made two crust pies or pies with a woven top crust so I ventured into uncharted waters with this recipe.  When asking my family if they’d like Cherry Pie or Cherry Cake (both vintage recipes I’ve not made) for President’s Day I got a resounding ‘cherry pie’ request.  When one thinks of our early Presidents I agree that cherry pie springs to mind.

I found a recipe called President’s Birthday Cherry Pie in my grandmother’s recipe box.  Liking to coordinate my desserts to my national holidays, it seemed complete destiny.   For me President’s Day and the corresponding three day holiday always feels like a beckoning of spring.  In Colorado we rarely have a traditional spring.  In fact in the decade I’ve lived here I can only remember one.  Typically we ping pong between flirty warmth and a soggy dump of snow until it all gives way to summer.  We rarely enjoy balmy breezes, or the building warmth assuring summer will come.  No taking time to gaze on the nubile growth of the new season (more likely holding our breath that the late snow does knock out the blooms and consequently the promise of summer fruit on our tender trees).  Despite all that, I choose to believe spring WILL come, in its own time, and I will secretly bid it welcome this weekend with my Cherry Pie.

Cherry Pie |

I must insert this pie is completely delicious.  The flavors perfectly combine to give center stage to the tartness of the cherries that act to pique the palate without a pucker.  I fell in love with the pie as it exited the oven with browned crust strips and bubbling, ruby-red cherries.  I waited about 13.5 minutes before cutting the first piece, anxious to take photos and taste it.  I realized the pie needed a moment to compose itself as the beautiful piece steamily relaxed on the plate.  It was fantastic though when I allowed the pie to fully cool and gel, the subsequent pieces were primly intact.

The original recipe was for a regular 9 inch pie pan.  I set my sights on a particular deep dish pan I have so will offer adaptations for both types of pie pans.  Being my first woven a pie top I felt like I was playing Jenga and once I successfully laid down 6 strips of crust atop the pie, I chickened out at the idea of doing anymore.  I also did not weave mine for fear of breaking the strips.  I was satisfied my pie might not win a beauty contest but is a ‘Pie for the People’.  Please, pie experts, weave your magic on your pie and think of me!

President’s Birthday Cherry Pie


    Ingredients (Deep Dish version):
  • 3 cans (16 ounces/can; about 3 cups)* pitted tart/pie cherries
  • ½ cup liquid from drained cherries**
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot starch or cornstarch
  • Heaping ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 plus 1/16 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into very small pieces to dot on pie
  • Pastry for double crust 9 inch deep dish pie (gluten free or regular)
  • Ingredients (Standard Pie):
  • 2 cans (16 ounces/can)* pitted tart/pie cherries
  • 1/3 cup liquid from drained cherries**
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot starch or cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into very small pieces to dot on pie
  • Pastry for double crust 9 inch regular pie (gluten free or regular)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Drain cherries reserving ½ cup liquid for a deep dish pie or 1/3 cup liquid for regular pie. Place both cherries and liquid into a large saucepan.
  3. Stir in granulated sugar, brown sugar, arrowroot or cornstarch, cinnamon and almond extract. Cook over medium-low heat until sugar is fully dissolved. Simmer for an additional minute and set aside.
  4. Prepare the pastry crust fitting one crust into the pie pan. Roll out the second crust and cut into ½ inch wide strips.
  5. Pour cherry mixture into pie crust, dot with butter and weave pastry strips on top of the filling.
  6. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 35 to 40 minutes until pie is brown and bubbly.
  7. Cool completely (if you can wait!) and serve.


*should you wish to use frozen pie cherries use the same volume thawed. **if using frozen thawed cherries add the required volume of diluted cherry juice as a replacement for the liquid from canned, drained cherries.
For a President’s Day drink dating back to George Washington, check out Cherry Bounce and make your own!


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  1. says

    Wish I weren't trying to lose a few pounds so I could make one of these today too! ever since I learned the ratio for great crust at Cook Street I've never had a bad crust – 12 ounces flour, 8 ounces butter, 4 ounces water (with a splash of vinegar in it to tenderize the crust – and only add water until it comes together). Enjoy your pie!

    • says

      Thanks Michele for the pie crust tip. It can be a road fraught with failure to find one's favorite crust recipe and knowing your beautiful food, you've saved the heartache for many I'm sure!

    • says

      Thank you Christiane. I have to say this pie is perfection. I agree completely on taking this over any chocolately dessert. It seems unexpected at this time of year too (at least in Colorado) making it all the sweeter!

  2. says

    My PRESIDENT this looks perfect. Pie is by far my favorite dessert – hands down, apron off – but I've never made a cherry one for some reason. Which is silly, as I love cherries and this is a stunning pie. Love the post, lady! (And I'm not a Martha pie-maker either… pie should be rustic, no?)

    • says

      I will confess; I don't always make my own dough. I really like Whole Foods Gluten Free pie crusts in their frozen section. I actually thawed two and rolled them out for this pie. Also if you look above in the comments from Cooking with Michele, she offers a tip for making perfect dough. I say make it easy for yourself. I love keeping some frozen for last minute pies or when I don't have the time to make crust from scratch.

    • says

      Realistically most people don't have time to always make everything from scratch. Finding a good back up when you don't have time or don't want to make a crust is all that matters to me. As I mentioned before Whole Foods makes a great frozen gluten free crust I keep on hand for such times. It would be a shame not to enjoy a pie for not wanting to make a crust don't you think?!

  3. says

    Ok, Tomboy Baker, you crack me up… first of all, your pie IS pretty! To me a pie has beauty when it looks rustic and homemade. If it it too perfect, you run the risk of having people think you picked it up at Perkins, yikes! And, I have Martha's “Pies and Tarts Cookbook” and yes, every one of her pies look rustic or “Tomboy” as you say. I'm sure your family enjoyed this beautiful pie!!

  4. says

    I am not a pie fan – I am still learning to like fruit, but I have got to say that that first picture is the most hands down stunning photograph I have ever seen of a pie. Even I want to take a bite. I am in need of some pie training from you and like you, I am a tomboy baking with no need for all the extra frills. Truly though, that is the most beautiful photograph I have ever seen of a pie. Amazing.

    • says

      I truly am humbled knowing your photographic prowess to recieve your compliment Kita. Really. But let's talk about you….you don't like fruit? How can that be?! Try this pie; it might put you over the hump both for pie and fruit!

  5. says

    Pie indeed does have a ¨gentle sensibility¨ to it – I quite like your description. To me, a beautiful and classic cherry pie such as this is absolutely satisfying and doesn´t go over the edge as some desserts do. Brava!

    • says

      Hi Helen. I don’t see these ingredients or measurements in the pie recipe so am unsure about your question? If you could fill me in more I’m happy to try to assist you.


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